Work on new charter overshadowed
Göksel Bozkurt ANKARA- Hürriyet Daily News
The Parliament Conciliation Commission has come into being through the participation of parties that have a group in Parliament, namely the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). The parties signed an agreement composed of 15 articles regarding the procedures by which to conduct their work. There is a clause in the agreement which indicates that “If a political party withdraws, or is deemed to have withdrawn, then the commission will cease to be.”
The article in question could threaten the commission’s entire existence. That assessment comes straight from the members of the BDP; it is also what lies underneath the ongoing insistence on simultaneous amendments to some existing laws. As for the reason: BDP members are continuing to receive convictions in legal suits. Their parliamentary immunities are also irrelevant in this case, as the sentences in question pertain to crimes against the state.
Certain BDP members will lose their seats if the Supreme Court of Appeals ratifies their penalties. The BDP then will consequently have to face the risk of losing its parliamentary group. The BDP has 29 seats in Parliament. Ahmet Türk, Aysel Tuğluk, Leyla Zana and the imprisoned Van Deputy Kemal Aktaş were banned from politics for a duration of five years. They will not be able to join the BDP until 2014. Four of the 29 deputies are already in prison. Independent bloc candidate Şerafettin Elçi has rejoined the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), while Levent Tüzel remains an independent deputy, although he, too, is set to rejoin the Party of Labor (EMEP).
When a political party has fewer than 20 seats in Parliament, it loses its parliamentary group. If the BDP group falls, then it will not be represented in the conciliation commission. Even if they were included in the commission through some inventive formula, it is still politically impossible for them to remain inside the commission under those circumstances. The BDP has been pointing toward this peril since the day the commission was formed. Selahattin Demirtaş says his files, along with those of Emine Ayna, Ahmet Türk and Aysel Tuğluk, are in the Supreme Court of Appeals. Reconciliation Commission members Sırrı Süreyya Önder, Ayla Akat Ata and Altan Tan say in meetings that “All our friends’ deputyships are in danger, ourselves included.”
I spoke to the BDP’s deputy leader, Meral Danış Beştaş. “The files of most of our deputies are swiftly sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals. If it is approved, this will be relayed to Parliament, and their deputyships will be annulled. The BDP group could also fall for this reason. How will the constitutional committee work in a milieu where the BDP is not represented and its group has fallen? [A solution] must be found immediately,” she said. Beştaş also adds that the deputyship of Hatip Dicle, who was elected from Diyarbakır on June 12, was annulled in a single day.
Atilla Kart, a commission member from the CHP, is also disquieted by similar worries. “I do not agree with the rhetoric and the actions of the BDP. It is essential, however, for the BDP to be represented in Parliament as a group in the name of democracy and social peace. The AKP needs to be sensitive and responsible on this issue,” he said.
No “positive” signals regarding a solution have come yet from the government, however. It might be said that the commission’s existence could be threatened if the BDP finds itself in such unfavorable circumstances. The path toward a solution once more lies in the hands of Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek.
‘CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION’ MIGHT GET APPROVAL
I have come across some interesting facts about the paid military service plans. “Public service” is on the agenda for those who qualify for paid exemption but cannot meet the required payments. There are also those who interpret this as a “partial conscientious objection.”
The head of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Ayhan Sefer Üstün, had indicated before that the European Court of Human Rights had warned Turkey to make legal arrangements in this regard so that youngsters who do not want to serve in the military could be employed in the public sector. It remains to be seen whether the proposition for paid exemption from military service provides a solution to this problem as well.
GOOD TIDINGS FOR ARRESTED DEPUTIES IN PARLIAMENT
“I feel sorry for our friends who had no opportunity to come to Parliament and take the oath despite being elected as deputies. It represents disrespect to the nation that they continue to remain behind bars,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said, causing a new wave of hope. “An air of optimism” has permeated the Parliament’s backrooms on the eve of the bayram holiday that arrested deputies could be released upon the order of court by the year’s end at latest. There are even those who go even further and say “Do not be taken by surprise if they take the oath in Parliament during the month of November.”